A Worshipping Church

Bible Book: John  4 : 23-24
Subject: Worship

What a mighty name, the name of Jesus. Take your Bible, find John chapter 4, and look up here. In these climatic days in which we’re living in the life of our church, I have been trying to distill and focus on the things that I have told you for 32 years. What kind of a church should our church be? What is the church of my dreams? What is the church of my aspirations? What is the church that I hope will be the future church? 

I spoke to you one Sunday on a unified church. And then I spoke to you on a steadfast church. And then I spoke to you on a miracle church. And then, last Sunday, on a praying church. Today, a worshiping church.

Take God’s Word, John chapter 4, and look, if you will, in verse 23. Jesus said, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Now, we’re going to revisit this morning a passage of Scripture that I’ve shared with you down through the years over and over again. It is a pivotal passage and it is a basic passage on worship.

I ask you a question. What is life’s highest good? Is it service? That’s wonderful. Is it sacrifice? Indeed, that is glorious. But, church, you listen to me. The bottom line - are you listening? - of all of life, life’s ultimate priority, life’s highest good, life’s supreme duty, life’s greatest privilege, is worship. Now, you know what? That was a good place for an amen. I want that to be riveted into your heart. I’m not just talking to you rhetoric;? I’m talking about to you something that is transformation, something that will change your Christian life from the monotonous to the momentous. I’m talking to you about something that will free you, and something that will fulfill you, something that will glorify

God through you, something that will give you great joy.  Now, I say this is a classic passage on worship, and I’ve mentioned it to you down through the years many times, but today I want to drive the nail in, turn it over, and bend it back. I want you to learn as a church, over and over again, to worship. The only way we can learn as a church to worship is to learn as individuals.

Now, this is a marvelous chapter, this fourth chapter of John. Jesus is on a journey, and the Bible says, “He must needs go through Samaria.” Now, that was not the easiest way. That was the mountainous way. If He’d wanted to take the easiest way, He would have gone down alongside the River Jordan, and I’ve made both trips many times. But Jesus must needs go through Samaria.

Now, the Samaritans were left over from the exile, and they intermarried, and the Jews thought of them as a mongrel race, and looked down upon them. And the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. The Samaritans were hostile to the Jews, and vice versa.

But now, Jesus is going through Samaria, and in the middle of the day He’s hot, tired, worn. He’s sitting on the curbing of a well. It’s called the well of Jacob, or Jacob’s well. It’s a deep well. I’ve drunk water out of that well. It goes way down deep. You can take some water and pour it and wait a long time before you hear it splash in the bottom. Now, that well is still there today. And Jesus was sitting on the curbing, the parapet around that well. The disciples had gone into the city to get some food because it was lunchtime and they were hungry. And there was not a McDonald’s in sight, and so they’d gone into the city to buy food. And this woman comes out there.

Now, this woman was what we would call a shady lady. She’s the shady lady of Samaria. She has been married 5 times. Today, we’d give her an academy award. She’d been married five times, and now she’s living with a man without even the benefit of a marriage ceremony. And she comes out there, not when the other women came out to draw water because they would look down upon her, maybe spit on her, so she comes out there by herself to draw water. And Jesus is there, and Jesus says to her, “Would you give me a drink of water?” She said, “How is it that you, being a Jew, would speak to me, a Samaritan, and ask of me of water?” He said, “Well, if you knew who was talking to you, you’d ask him and he’d give you living water.” She said, “What do you mean living water? You don’t have anything to draw with. The well is deep.” And Jesus now begins to speak to this thirsty woman about real living water, a drink that would satisfy her forever and ever and ever and ever, because Jesus Christ is what every soul thirsts for: He’s the water of life!

Look at this poor woman. There she was bound by sin. She’d gone from husband to husband and to husband, and she got deeper and deeper into sin. The cords of sin had bound her. Not only was she bound by sin, but she was blinded by Satan. She didn’t know the way out. She had religion, but religion was a washout to her. It did not satisfy her hungry, thirsty soul. Bound by sin, blinded by Satan, and broken by sorrow - think of this woman! Think how pitiful her life was. Jesus’ heart went out to her in compassion, as He goes out to you in compassion. And this woman needed to lift her eyes from the things of this earth and learn how to worship. And so, Jesus teaches her now about worship, and Jesus said, “God is spirit.” Not a spirit. The Bible, the King James, says “a spirit,” but maybe better translated, “God is spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Three things I want you to learn about worship today. May God the Holy Spirit impress them upon your soul, or rivet them into your consciousness, and cause you to remember them forever and ever.

I. The Meaning of True Worship

First of all, I want you to see what I’m going to call the meaning of true worship - the meaning of true worship. Now, this woman knew about worship, but she didn’t understand true worship. Look, if you will, in verses 19 and 20: “The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain;? and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Now, what she wants to do is to get up a discussion about worship. She didn’t know anything about real worship, but she knew about religion. As I said, religion had been a washout to her. And now, what she wants to do right now is to argue about religion, to argue about worship. “You Jews say that Jerusalem is the place to worship. We say here in Samaria our mountain is the place to worship. Now, if you’re a prophet, you tell me which is the right place to worship.” Now, I want you to see the tension that was here.

You remember, obviously, the Jews and the Samaritans are not getting along. Now, the Samaritans worshiped in ignorance and zeal. Now, notice what Jesus said. Look down in verse 22: “Ye worship ye know not what;? we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” The Samaritans worshiped in ignorance, but they worshiped in zeal. As a matter of fact, I have been to Samaria. There’s still a group of Samaritans to this day who have the five books of Moses and an ancient scroll. I’ve seen it. The Samaritans had rejected all of the Bible, all of the Old Testament, except for the five books of Moses. And they were so certain that they knew the truth. They were so certain that their worship was the right worship and nobody else’s worship was the right worship. So what they had was zeal and ignorance. May I tell you that today the world is saturated with that. It’s not that people don’t worship. Oh, they have zeal, but it’s ignorant worship. Do you know what a fanatic is? Somebody who has lost his direction and doubles his speed. That’s what these Samaritans were doing. Jesus said, “You’re worshiping in ignorance. You don’t know what you are worshiping.” Now, that’s the Samaritans.

What about the Jews? While the Samaritans had ignorance and zeal, the Jews had the truth, but they didn’t have any zeal. The Jews had dead orthodoxy. Now, I would reference to you Mark chapter 7 and verse 6. Jesus is speaking to them. “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

Now, over here you have ignorant zeal? over here you have dead orthodoxy. Now, that’s the other part of the world today. Some people are worshiping with ignorant zeal and others with dead orthodoxy. Some fry in fanaticism, and some freeze in formalism, but they don’t have the vitality of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, folks, listen. The answer here is not formalism or fanaticism;? it is true worship - true worship. We don’t have to have enthusiastic heresy, we don’t have to have lifeless orthodoxy, we don’t have to have heat without light, or light without heat;? we need true worship. Do you know, it’ll be a great day in your life, it’ll be a great day in any church, when you stop enduring religion and start enjoying true worship. I want you to understand this, folks. This is the bottom line. This is the highest good. This is the ultimate privilege: to worship God in spirit and in truth.

Now, look again, if you will, in verse 23. Jesus said to this woman, “The hour cometh, and now is when the true worshipers… - underscore that - the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” Now, look at that word worship. Do you see it? That word comes from really two words: worth and ship. You see, worship deals with worth. You show me how you worship, and I will tell you what God is worth to you. You show me how you worship and, my dear friend, I’ll tell you what you think of God. If your worship is not true worship, you have a low estimation of God. Worship is all that we are responding to all that God is revealed in Jesus Christ. That’s what worship is.

Now, friend, worship goes beyond a church service. Worship goes beyond music. Worship goes beyond, if you’re in a liturgical church, candles and incense. Again, I want to tell you that worship is all that you are responding to all that God is.

Now, you’re going to worship something. You see, listen. Man is incurably religious. Man has a God­shaped vacuum, and he’s trying to fill that vacuum, so you’re going to worship something. If you don’t worship the true God, you’re going to worship in dead orthodoxy or ignorant zeal, or you’re going to worship some idol. Anything that you love more, fear more, serve more than the Almighty is your idol. It may be a movie star. It may be a sports idol. It may be money. It may be pleasure. It may be illicit sex.

Is next Sunday the Super Bowl? For some people, that’s a no-­brainer. If they had to choose between the Super Bowl and church, they’d choose the Super Bowl. You think about it. You think about it. Anything that you love more, fear more, serve more than Almighty God is an idol. And there’s no greater sin than idolatry.

Now, if you don’t practice true worship, you will find a substitute for worship, because nature abhors a vacuum. Some worship images. Today, you can go into what is called a house of worship, and you’ll find images, people lighting candles and putting candles in front of those images, people bowing down and kissing those images. They call that worship. You say, “Why do you have those images?” “Well, they remind us of the one true God.” Suppose a woman walks into a room and finds her husband embracing another woman, and he says, “Now, wait a minute, sweetheart. Don’t get the wrong idea. She just reminds me so much of you.”

Oh, friend, graven images are not a substitute for true worship. God is spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. There is no image, no likeness, that you can use as a substitute for God. Isaiah chapter 40, verse 25: “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.” Now, what is the meaning of true worship? It is worshiping God in spirit and in truth.

II. The Motive of True Worship

Now, secondly, what is the motive of true worship? Why do we do this? Look again in verse 23: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” If you don’t mind marking in your Bible, mark the word spirit and mark the word truth. But then it goes on to say, “For the Father seeketh such to worship him.” Now, why would we worship? Because that’s what God seeks. That’s what God seeks. That’s what God wants of you. Say to yourself, God wants me to worship. The Father seeks that for two major reasons. Reason number one is for what worship does for the worshiper, what worship will do to you. You see, we become like what we worship. That’s the reason idolatry is such a sin. First, the man molds the idol, and then the idol molds the man. We become like what we worship. Now, that’s true in the negative sense; it’s also true in the positive sense. The more you worship God - are you listening? The more you worship God, the more you will become like God.

If you have an old-­fashioned fireplace with a poker - that is, a piece of iron that you arrange the wood with - you leave that poker in the fire very long, and before long the fire will be in the poker. When you worship God, it is not very long until you become like what you worship. And God’s fire will be in you. We become like what we worship. Put down in your margin 2 Corinthians chapter 3 and verse 18: “But we all, with an open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of the Lord.” As you contemplate the Lord, as you worship the Lord, as you keep your heart open to the Lord, you will be changed more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ.

May I ask you a question? Do other people see Jesus in you? Do they? I mean, don’t answer it rhetorically, answer it sincerely in your heart. Are you being changed day by day by day into the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? To spend time with God worshiping will make you godly. We become like what we spend time with. They say even a husband and wife, when they live together for a long time, begin to look like each other. And Joyce is getting worried.

Why do we worship? Because of what worship does for us, but not only for what worship does for us, but because of what God desires for Himself. God desires worship for Himself. The need for worship is rooted in the very nature of God. How did Jesus describe God in this passage on worship? Listen very carefully and don’t miss this. “The Father seeketh such to worship him” - “the Father seeketh such to worship him.” Now, you’re going to get an idea of why God desires worship. And let me say this: Father is not what God is like, Father is what God is. We have these feminists today trying to talk about Mother God. That is absolute, unmitigated gall and ignorance. God is Father! Now, we don’t get our idea of God from our fatherhood, we get an idea of our fatherhood from God. That’s not to put women down at all, but God is Father. If you take away the Fatherhood of God, you miss the entire thing in the Bible. God is Father! Jesus’ favorite term for the Almighty is Father. He used that over 70 times in the Scripture. Now, that’s very important. God is our heavenly Father.

Do you know there are things about God you’ll never understand? I don’t even know if you’ll understand them when you get into glory. God’s omnipotence;? His limitless power. God’s omniscience, He knows everything. God’s omnipresence;? He is everywhere. God’s eternality, He never had a beginning, never has an ending. Those are concepts beyond the human mind, but you don’t have to understand them to know and love God.

When I was a little boy, my daddy would go off to work, and I would see my daddy kiss my mother goodbye. My daddy always dressed up when he went to work. He was a very spiffy guy. And he dressed up, kissed my mother goodbye. He had a little valise or thing that he kept his papers in. And he would go off. I would be a boy, four or five years old. My daddy would go to work. I would watch him leave. I had no idea what he did, what his job was. I didn’t know that. But I’ll tell you one thing. I knew my daddy! Are you listening? You don’t have to understand all of the intricacies of Almighty God - His omniscience, His omnipotence. You don’t have to understand how He keeps the sun, moon, and stars in orbit to call Him Father if you’ve been born again. You see, this thing of worship is rooted in the Fatherhood of God. Do you know what my father wanted from me? He didn’t want me to understand his profession, he wanted me to love him. You see, when we worship, we’re just responding to the Father’s love. I love my father because he first loved me. There’s something about a father’s heart that wants the love of his children.

This past week we had a banquet here at the church. It was a father-­daughter banquet. And the fathers brought their girls to this banquet. I wish you could have seen those beautiful little girls all dressed up with their daddies at that banquet. It was wonderful. And my daughter Janice and I were the program. And Janice stood up first and spoke of what her father meant to her. I could not tell you how my heart was blessed, how deeply moved I was, how grateful I was, to hear my child speak not only privately to me, but openly and publicly of her love and her devotion to her father. Now, friend, that’s the way God’s great heart is. You see, God wants us to worship, first of all, because of what worship does for us. It changes us. And then what worship does for God. It gives Him pleasure. “The Father seeketh such to worship him.” A father wants love.

Now, I’ve got some good news for you. Every Father’s Day little children wonder, what can I get for daddy? What can we give daddy? Well, you could give him some slippers or you can give him a necktie, but you know what your daddy wants? Love! Love! What can you give to God today? You say, “Well, I can’t sing like these people sang. I can’t preach like so-­and-­so. I can’t do this. I can’t do that.” There is nobody who can love God better than you can. And that’s what God wants more than anything else.

Isn’t that great? Nobody on earth can love God better than you can, and that’s what God wants more than anything else. “The Father seeketh such to worship him.”

III. The Method of True Worship

Now, let’s move to the third and final thing. I’ve talked to you about the meaning and the motive. Let me talk to you about the method of true worship. Look again now in verses 23 and 24: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” Now, Jesus is speaking to this woman. Now, she talks about worship, but she doesn’t have real worship. It is ignorant worship. What is the method of true worship? Jesus said we’re to worship in spirit. Do you see that? Now, He’s not talking about the Holy Spirit. He’s talking about the human spirit. That is, worship comes out of the inner man. Romans chapter 1 and verse 9, Paul said, “For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit.” He’s talking about the human spirit. Now, the human spirit cannot worship unless it is enjoined with the Holy Spirit, but God the Holy Spirit comes into the human spirit to help us to worship. That’s the reason you have to be saved and Spirit-­filled to truly worship. Now, if you’re having trouble worshiping, may I tell you what your problem is? It’s in your spirit. If you get bored in church, the problem is your inner spirit.

Joyce had a brother. He’s now in heaven. He was a sort of a playboy, raced boats and automobiles and was a businessman. Joyce and I prayed for him and prayed for him and prayed for him. Every now and then, grudgingly, he’d come hear me preach. And then he got saved. Not only did he get saved, he got saved­and­a­half? I mean, radically, dramatically saved. And he came to hear me preach, and he said, “Adrian, boy, that’s great. You don’t preach like you used to.” I said, “Gordon, I preach the same way I’ve been preaching. You don’t hear like you used to.” Listen, friend. When you get your heart right, a service is not going to be boring. You’ve never been in a boring worship service. There is no such thing. You worship in spirit and then you worship in truth. Now, worship that is not built on truth is not true worship. Worship built on truth goes beyond spirit. It goes beyond subjectivism. Psalm 145, verse 18: “The LORD is nigh unto all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” Your worship of God will never rise above your knowledge based on truth. That’s why from this pulpit, as long as I’m pastor, and please, God, when the next pastor comes, there will always be an exposition of truth. You see, you cannot worship God ignorantly. Jesus said, “You don’t know what you’re worshiping, woman. God must be worshiped in truth.” Worship is a loving response to the God revealed in the Bible. That’s why we study the Bible.

Some people say, “Well, what are we going to have today? Are we going to have a Bible study or a worship service?” Yes! Some people think, well, when we sing and pray and praise and fellowship, that’s worship. Friend, the preaching of the Word of God is worship. We worship God in truth. And if we don’t do that, the church becomes syrupy. It becomes subjective rather than objective. Now, we’re to worship Him with songs and worship Him with understanding. Here’s a great verse for you, Brother Jim, and all in our music department. This is Psalm 47, verse 7: “For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.” That’s spirit, and that is truth. If you have all emotionalism, you blow up. If you have all truth, you dry up. But if you have spirit and truth, you grow up. Jesus said we’re to worship in spirit and in truth.

Well, very quickly - I must close. Jesus gave us the great commandment, and it deals with worship. Mark 12, verse 30: “And thou shall love the Lord thy God - now, listen - with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” 

Remember when I said, what is the highest good? What is the bottom line? What is the ultimate privilege? Here Jesus is saying it so clearly. We’re to love God. How are we going to love Him? I want you to write down four words and put them in your purse, your pocketbook, your shirt pocket, and carry them with you this week.

The first word is passionately. We’re to love our God passionately, that i, with all of our heart, as much as in us is. Half-­hearted worship is an insult to Almighty God. Does God have all of your heart passionately?

Number two: You’re to love Him selflessly, with all of your soul. The soul is the self. You’re not to be self-­centered. You’re self-­centered by nature. Have you ever heard anybody say, “Well, I came to church and I didn’t get anything out of it?” Who said you were supposed to get anything out of it? Ask yourself this question: Did God receive anything from my worship? Did God get something out of it? We’re here to glorify God. We’re to serve Him selflessly. When you take your mind off of yourself and put your mind on God and stop saying, “What am I going to get?” and begin to say, “What am I going to give?” the church is transformed into a worshiping church.

And we are to love Him thoughtfully, with all of our heart. A full heart’s no excuse for an empty head. Serve the Lord with knowledge and wisdom. Love Him in spirit and in truth. And then we’re to love Him practically, with all of our strength - everything we do. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all to the glory of God.”


What is worship? It’s giving God glory. You can change the place where you go to work tomorrow morning if you’ll just change your bosses. You don’t work for that man;? you work for God. That’s exactly what the Bible teaches. The Bible says, “Serve your masters, according to the flesh, as if they were Jesus, for you serve the Lord God.” Your workplace can be your temple of devotion, your lampstand of witness, as you worship God with all of your strength. That’s what Jesus was telling this woman. She said, “Do we worship here or do we worship there?” Jesus said, “Woman, you worship in spirit and in truth.” There is no place that is not a holy place. There is no ground that is not sacred ground. There is no time that should not be a time of worship. So when we come to church to the worship service, we don’t come merely to worship - listen, church - we bring our worship to church! When you come in here with a heart aflame, if you come in here and hardly can wait to sing these songs, to fellowship, to love to study the Word of God, then this becomes a worshiping church. And that, my friend, will make Bellevue

Church in the future the church that God desires her to be. And when I step aside, O

God, O God, let this church be a worshiping church. Amen and amen.

Bow your heads in prayer. Our Father and our God, we pray as individuals, and I pray for myself, that You would teach us, Lord, to worship in spirit and in truth with true worship. In Your holy name. Amen.

Now, look up here. Remember what I told you, that you worship in spirit? And you cannot worship in spirit unless you’re first born again. When you are born again, God’s Spirit begins to work in your spirit, the human spirit, so you can praise God. To be born again means to be saved. It means to have Christ in your heart. And how do you receive Him into your heart? By faith. “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Believe that Jesus Christ paid your sin debt with His shed blood on the cross. Believe that God raised Him from the dead to show that He is the Son of God. Believe that He can save you, wants to save you, and will save you, if you’ll trust Him. And then trust Him with a childlike faith. Don’t ask for any special feeling. Don’t ask for a vision. Just put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Trust Him to save you. Bow your heads in prayer. Father God, I pray now that many in this building will give their hearts to Jesus. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Now, look up here. We’re going to sing an invitational hymn. The ministers of our church are going to stand at the head of each of these aisles all the way across the front to be welcoming those of you who will be coming forward. If you’re in the balcony, a minister will be here under that banner in the corner that says Redeemer, or if you’re on this side of the balcony, a minister under that banner that says Messiah, to welcome those of you in the balcony who will be coming. And today, if once and for all, now and forever, as best you know how you’ll give all you know of you to all you know of Jesus, I’m going to ask you to leave your seat and come forward. “Pastor, what would I say when I go down there?” Say, “I’m trusting Jesus.” You can say that. “I’m trusting Jesus.” “Pastor, what will happen?” Well, number one: we’ll rejoice. Number two: we’ll give you some Scripture to stand on. Number three: we’ll answer any questions that we can answer from the Word of God, and we’ll seal it with you in prayer. We’ll treat you kindly and courteously, and I can tell you, you can leave this house of God today twice-­born and ready for real worship, the bottom line of everything. Others of you are saved and you know it, and you need a church home. I want to invite you to come and say, “I want to place my membership in this wonderful church.” Some of you may be thinking, you know, we’re going to wait till we see who our next pastor is before we place our membership. Friend, you’re going to miss one of the greatest blessings in the world if you don’t be a member here when we’re going through this glorious time in our church. And I want to invite you to come and say, “I want to place my membership here,” if you know and love the Lord Jesus. If you have not had believer’s baptism, as we understand it, we’d want the joy of baptizing you as a believer in Christ. Let’s stand together. You step out and come. On the very first stanza you come to Jesus.